Top Taiwan negotiator visits USTR, discusses next trade initiative meeting

07/02/2022 02:35 PM
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Taiwan's top trade negotiator John Deng (second right) is pictured on June 30. Photo courtesy of Taiwan's representative office in the U.S.

Washington, July 1 (CNA) Taiwan's chief trade negotiator John Deng (鄧振中) visited the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on Friday and discussed how both sides will start the next meeting before entering official talks under the newly-launched U.S.-Taiwan trade initiative.

Speaking with reporters after the visit, Deng said he met with U.S. Deputy Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi to talk about the next meeting under the "U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade," which was unveiled in early June.

The first meeting under the trade initiative was held at USTR on June 27, but as Deng tested positive for COVID-19 in Mexico, he attended the meeting virtually. After he recovered from the infection, Deng flew to Washington, D.C. and visited USTR in person to discuss how to proceed to the second meeting.

Deng said although he and USTR had long talks on the agenda of the trade initiative, he still wanted to use the in-person visit to confirm the content of the June 27 meeting and talk about the next meeting.

"I hope the trade initiative will result in concrete conclusions and push Taiwan-U.S. trade ties forward," Deng said.

On June 1, Taiwan and the U.S. launched the joint trade initiative to "develop concrete ways" to boost their bilateral economic and trade relationship in the hope of eventually negotiating "high-standard" agreements.

According to USTR, the trade initiative "is intended to develop concrete ways to deepen the economic and trade relationship, advance mutual trade priorities based on shared values, and promote innovation and inclusive economic growth for our workers and businesses."

Deng said Friday's visit to USTR allowed him to have a better understanding about the U.S. government's enthusiasm to facilitate its trade ties with Taiwan and its goals and measures to ensure the bilateral relations will continue for a long time.

Deng said he also told the U.S. government that Taipei has been very willing to work with Washington and hoped the trade initiative will lead to concrete results as soon as possible, and that both sides will then sign agreements to lay down a good foundation for bilateral ties.

Deng said he will keep close contacts with the U.S. over the next few weeks, hoping the talks under the trade initiative will open as soon as possible.

Currently, the trade framework was at the "open comment period" which will last until July 8. Taiwan's top envoy to the United States, Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), said earlier this week that she hoped the official negotiations on a new bilateral trade initiative could begin in July.

Deng said Taiwan has conveyed its strong willingness to kick off negotiations to sign a bilateral trade agreement (BTA) with the U.S., adding now the bilateral ties are in the most positive stage with solid support from the U.S. government.

Referring to the most positive stage in trade ties which he mentioned, the Taiwan trade negotiator said when he met with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai in Bangkok during an APEC ministerial meeting in Bangkok, the American official said Washington had a concrete measure to strengthen bilateral ties. Soon after the meeting with Tai, both sides announced the "U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade" on June 1.

Deng said Taiwan and the U.S. are expected to have an equal footing in negotiations under the trade initiative, and if the future talks proceed smoothly, both sides are expected to lay a sound legal base to allow their industries and non-governmental organizations to work together.

Despite the launch of the trade initiative, Deng said Taiwan still looked forward to taking part in U.S.-led Indo-Pacific economic initiative, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).

Taiwan was excluded from the first round of membership under the IPEF, which was launched on May 23 by U.S. President Joe Biden.

Due to his COVID-19 infection, Deng did not attend the SelectUSA Investment Summit held in the U.S. during June 26-29.

However, as Taiwan sent the largest delegation to the summit and Taiwan-based GlobalWafers Co., the world's third-largest supplier of silicon wafers, announced it will invest US$5 billion in Texas, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo then arranged an online meeting with the Taiwan top trade negotiator, Deng said.

Raimondo expressed gratitude for Taiwan's investments, hoping her country will develop more business ties with Taiwan, while Deng said Taipei and Washington have already forged close relations in the supply chain, so he was glad to see Taiwanese enterprises' decisions to make important investments in the U.S.

(By Ching Chin-yeh and Frances Huang)

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